COVID-19 this week: Simcoe-Muskoka could see further restrictions if caseloads continues to grow

Local caseload continues to grow week over week

Short on time? Here’s what you need to know:
-Cases in Simcoe-Muskoka continue to rise, while most are in southern Simcoe County
-The vast majority have recovered
-Simcoe and Muskoka remain in the protect-yellow tier of the province’s recovery framework but are trending toward restrict-orange

While it’s only Tuesday, Simcoe-Muskoka is marking its fifth consecutive week of reported cases exceeding 100.

pandemic trajectory

On Tuesday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) reported 31 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of cases this week to 116. There were 141 cases reported last week and the week before. The seven-day rolling average of cases for Simcoe-Muskoka is 28.6. The Health Unit’s goal is to see a decrease over 14 days or a stable trend of fewer than two cases per day.

“As of today, we have had a total of 1,750 cases. This is an increase of 190 cases since I last reported on November 10,” said the SMDHU’s medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner, in his weekly address via Facebook. “For the week of November 1 to November 8, we had a total of 141 cases, and that’s the highest increase that we’ve had in any single week.”

The SMDHU reports a reproduction number (Rt) of 1.2. Anything above 1.0 indicates the virus continues to spread within the community.

The SMDHU epidemic curve as of November 17, via HealtStats

The majority of the region’s caseload is among those aged 18 to 34, while those in the 45-64 age range follow that. People aged 35 to 44 make up the third-largest group of people contracting COVID-19, while those under 17 and those over the age of 80 comprise the rest. The majority of lives lost to COVID in Simcoe-Muskoka are among those aged 80 and over.

spread and tracing

As far as the method of virus spread, the SMDHU indicates close contact is the main way people are acquiring COVID-19. This means it is being spread moreso within households than it is at grocery stores or educational settings. “We continue to see clusters of cases occurring in households,” said Dr. Gardner. “More recently, they’ve been households of family members, or for that matter, clusterings between households.”

“There are some instances of family gatherings beyond a household that are leading to transmission,” added Gardner. “In the month of November, we’ve had a total of 19 household clusters throughout Simcoe County and in Barrie.”

The vast majority of cases within Simcoe and Muskoka have recovered, with 1,476 people out of the region’s 1,750 cases to date having been listed as recovered. However, 50 people have lost their lives to date.

In the most recent week’s worth of testing data, the SMDHU has reported a percent positivity of 1.9 percent. This means out of all the tests run in Simcoe-Muskoka, 1.9 percent of them yield a positive result. The goal is to get that to be less than one percent.

outbreaks

There were twelve outbreaks declared as of November 17, this includes three long-term care homes, three retirement homes, one congregate setting, two educational settings, and three workplaces.

Outbreaks are ongoing at long-term care homes Simcoe Manor in Beeton, I.O.O.F. in Barrie and Sunset Manor in Collingwood. Retirement homes experiencing outbreaks include Waterford Retirement Community and Allandale Station Retirement Residence in Barrie, as well as Holland Gardens Retirement Residence in Bradford. The SMDHU reports active outbreaks at Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School and Our Lady of Grace Catholic School, both in Angus. Information on workplace outbreaks is not made public in order to protect patient identity.

There have been 54 outbreaks declared to date.

Simcoe-Muskoka’s recovery

Simcoe-Muskoka remains in the protect-yellow tier of the province’s framework of recovery. This means there are restrictions on caps on events and social gatherings of 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. Organized public events can see 50 people indoors, 100 outdoor. Face coverings are required in all indoor workplaces and any indoor public space with limited exceptions.

Limits are in place for the sale of alcohol at restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, while there are strict caps on the number of people within sports and recreational fitness facilities. A complete breakdown of restrictions is available on the Ontario Government website. “If we continue now with a higher incidences of cases, and we continue with a higher percent positivity, we would meet the criteria for the orange-restrict status,” said Dr. Gardner. “I think that’s an important head’s up for people about the potential for us to be moving into orange at some point.”

Province-wide, there were 1,249 additional cases of COVID-19 reported by Public Health Ontario.